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Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Reid Brignac goes on bereavement leave

MIAMI — The Rays will be without SS Reid Brignac until Friday as he went home to Louisiana following the death of his grandfather on Saturday.

The Rays placed Brignac on the bereavement list, which provides for a three- to seven-game absence, and called up INF Felipe Lopez to replace him.

Lopez would appear to be just a temporary fill-in, though the switch-hitter is likely to be in the lineup tonight at first base against Tigers LHP Phil Coke.

The Rays had to re-add him to the 40-man roster to make the move and would risk losing him on waivers again if they seek to send him back down when Brig­nac returns. They were in the same situation on May 3, when they designated him for assignment after he'd filled in during Evan Longoria's month on the DL, and Lopez cleared waivers and accepted the assignment to Triple-A Durham.

The Rays' options were limited because they don't have any other infielders on the 40-man roster but liked the idea of having Lopez, a switch-hitting veteran, available.

Lopez, hitting .347 in 11 games for the Bulls, was glad to be back: "This smile says it all."

Brignac got the news before Saturday's game but wanted to play. "Of course I honored that," manager Joe Maddon said. "He had a heavy heart (Saturday). He was very upset. It sounds like they were pretty close."

On his Twitter account (@reidbrignac), Brignac posted: "Thanks to everyone sending your support it means a lot to me and my family … my grandfather was a good man and he lived a long great life."

Elliot Johnson, who already had earned a share of the starting shortstop job, will play in Brignac's absence.

A BAT AND A HARD PLACE: Matt Joyce found himself in a tough spot during a fifth-inning sequence: He was trying to score on Sean Rodriguez's bunt to extend their 4-0 lead, but the bat was in his path, so he didn't slide and instead was tagged out.

"I didn't really know what to do," Joyce said. "It's probably a different situation in the playoffs or World Series or something and I have to slide. But man, that's such a tough situation with the bat there and you realize there's a possibility of injury. I felt terrible about it."

Maddon said there wasn't much Joyce could do. Unless, Maddon then joked, he wanted to channel the old M*A*S*H show and be like Col. Flagg, who would do things to intentionally hurt himself. "I don't think Matt has any of that in him," he said.

FEELING BETTER: Longoria didn't want to make too much out of his two-hit game, but after going 3-for-30 in his previous eight, the smile on his face said plenty. "I got some results today, which is great for confidence going forward," he said. "I've got to continue to have good at-bats, and hopefully that plan and that approach will keep carrying over from day to day."

HAPPY RETURNS: DH Johnny Damon said he enjoyed playing in Detroit last season and expects a warm welcome from the fans tonight. "When everybody was saying Detroit was a depressed town I was like, no, it's great," he said. "The fans supported us. There's great areas to live. I think Detroit is just a place that wanted hope, and they have some."

MISCELLANY: Joyce finished the day leading the majors in hitting at .355. … The Rays tonight can match the record-holding 2010 Twins by going 48 games into the season without a multi-error game. … RHP Jeremy Hellickson will have his road-warrior family in the stands tonight, making the nearly 10-hour drive from their Des Moines, Iowa, home.

Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Reid Brignac goes on bereavement leave 05/22/11 [Last modified: Sunday, May 22, 2011 9:45pm]

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